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Driving sales for your business is about communication, whether you want to encourage a previous customer to re-order; a low-level buyer to boost their spend or turn a brand new prospect into a customer, a well written sales email is a vital tool. Creating that email might be daunting, but whatever your product, here are some basic principles to follow.
Before we get into the process, a quick word on data protection. Anybody you send an email to must have given consent to receiving mail from you. From 25 May, when new EU-wide rules come into force, this will need to be explicit consent. Beyond the legal implications of data protection complaints, unsolicited emails will often end up in the recipients’ spam folders, and may turn customers off your brand.
Know what you are offering.
Why are you contacting the customer and what are you selling? The answers to these questions will affect your approach. A low-cost or one-off product will require a different approach to a high value sale or commitment to an ongoing service. Are you hoping for an immediate click through to your online store? Or to inspire visits to your physical storefront? Or are you expecting the customer contact you for an in depth discussion of their needs and your services? Again, each of these needs a different approach. Before you try writing your sales email, make sure you know these answers.
Know who you are writing to.
‘Demographics’ is such an overused buzzword that upon reading it your head might just have exploded. There is no escaping the importance of knowing your customer base though. How old are they, are they single or in a relationship, how much do they earn, what are their hobbies, their jobs, their preferred cars? The more you know about your typical customer the better.
The reason for this is that it will colour everything from the layout and choice of images you use to the wording and the nature of the your offer. Convincing an 18 year old student to buy your artisan jewellery, a young couple to rent your holiday home, and a managing director to commit to a full-service accountancy package are very different tasks. Again, make sure to set out these facts before you start writing. Combined the data with the information about your offer and you now have your brief. You are ready to start writing.
Cynical sales people will talk about creating need, as if it can be spun out of thin air. This is inefficient and prone to backfiring. People can tell when they are being manipulated, and they don’t like it.
Instead, try to expose an existing need to them, which should be possible if you have targeted your marketing correctly. That need will vary according to the nature of the product. For our examples above, it ranges from needing an accessory to set off an outfit, via needing accommodation in the right place for the right price, to an essential business service that can be very expensive and complicated.
Present a solution.
Having established a need for your product, you need to convince the customer that your product is the answer. An old writer’s maxim applies here: show, don’t tell. Obviously you will need to provide some details of what you offer, but try to make it easy for the customer to picture how you meet their needs. Pictures are great if your product is physical (our artisan jewellery or holiday home). Client testimonials go a long way for both services and physical products. Your goal is simple, in the previous step you showed them that they have a problem, now you are offering to solve it.
Finish with a call to action.
Don’t rely on the customer intuitively knowing what the next step is, prompt them. Sales professionals refer to this as a call to action, or “asking for the sale”. Your sales email should end with something designed to prompt the sale, or the follow-up discussion, or whatever it is that you identified as your goal in our first step.
Links are your friend here. It’s more hassle for the customer to find your website, or make a phone call than to click or tap on a convenient link. Make sure it takes them to a suitable landing page. This should be where they can add the product to their shopping cart, take a virtual tour, or book an appointment to talk about your services. The aim is to make it as easy as possible for the customer to buy.
It may take some time for you to find the right approach and maximise sales. Because of this it is a good idea to divide your leads into small batches. That way, if you don’t have it right, your email doesn’t go to all of your potential customers. Once you get used to exposing needs and showing how you have the best way to meet them, you will be able to use sales emails to drive your business.